By George Overhill

29th Sep, 2022 | 7:10am

Chris Sutton assesses Leeds United as long-awaited Aston Villa game finally nears

Leeds United are lacking “balance” so far in the Premier League as their first game in nearly a month finally nears, according to Chris Sutton.

A highly encouraging start to the campaign reached a peak with the 3-0 demolition of a Chelsea on 21 August, on a day where the Whites went third after three games, but a solitary draw and two defeats since, including the 5-2 collapse at Brentford on 3 September in their last action, have tempered things.

Jesse Marsch was sent off in that game for protesting too vociferously about referee Rob Jones’ decision not to award a penalty, and with postponements and the international break will miss the return to the pitch on Sunday (2 October), and Sutton thinks the American needs to find a middle ground with his “blood and thunder” approach.

Writing in his Mail+ guide to the Premier League before the World Cup he said: “There will be no Jesse Marsch on the touchline against Aston Villa. He’ll be serving his ban after that red card at Brentford.

“Marsch wants blood and thunder from his players on the pitch, and he brings that in the technical area, as a few fourth officials will attest.

“Leeds started this season well, but then fell into a poor patch and need to strike a balance.”

Pent up

The results so far this year would tend to support Sutton’s assessment, but Marsch has a clear way he wants his side to play.

He is due to tone it down personally on the touchline after coming to the conclusion that it isn’t actually helping matters, but it could be dangerous to ask his players to do the same.

Not unlike Marcelo Bielsa’s side, albeit in a different tactical manner, this team are set up to follow a plan that sometimes works but can leave them open if it doesn’t.

Having gone 29 days without a game in the Premier League, finally returning to action could see the players attack the game to an even greater degree, which fans will be hoping is too much for an Aston Villa side struggling with injury to cope with away from home.

Going straight at Steven Gerrard’s men with a squad that should have been boosted by returns from injury in the time off could be the recipe to record a morale-boosting win.

Marsch may need to add some caveats to his tactics as the season goes on, but he would have struggled to legislate for the kind of calamities that Diego Llorente and Robin Koch were cooking up between them in Brentford, or the uneven refereeing performance, or for that matter the scorching form of Ivan Toney.

Take that result away and it is only a narrow 1-0 defeat to Brighton which blots an otherwise unbeaten record, so if he can sure things up the back perhaps there isn’t too much wrong.

With so little to judge for weeks now it is difficult to know which way this team is heading currently, but a lot more will become clear after the Villa game.

In other Leeds United news, one outstanding piece of business is continuing to pour salt on a Premier League rival’s wound with every passing game.